If you’ve already made a commitment to recovery, then we don’t have to tell you that pure willpower is not the answer to overcoming addiction. Prior to recovery, many people with a substance use disorder want to “will” themselves to quit. You may even try to cut ties with using friends, ditch all of your alcohol or drugs or make heartfelt promises to loved ones – but having a strong will isn’t enough.
Unfortunately, willpower will only get you so far without proper support, education and treatment. This is because addiction isn’t a choice or result of moral failing; it’s a chronic, progressive disease that hijacks the brain, making our convictions to stop using fruitless without a process of proper recovery. On the contrary, surrendering your will and recognizing that you don’t have all the answers can help give you the will to recover.
Moving Beyond Willpower
Here are few more reasons why willpower isn’t enough to overcome addiction.
Addiction changes your brain. Chronic drug use alters the brain’s reward system and makes drugs and alcohol a priority over all else – almost as if they’re as necessary for our survival as food and water. No amount of willpower can change this. “When someone’s truly addicted, that warped system keeps them going back even after the brain gets so used to the high that it’s no longer pleasurable,” explained David W. Freeman in the often quoted article “Blame Addiction on Poor Willpower? What Doctors Say Now.”
Making the decision to quit is just the first step. Again, once you decide or “will” yourself to quit, you’ll need proven addiction treatments to bring about real change. This may include:
- Individual therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
- Group therapy
- Family counseling
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Medication management
- Life skills training
- 12-step immersion
- Spiritual coaching
You’ll need support. If you believe that all you need is willpower, then you’re likely not seeking help or opening yourself up to learn from others. This type of isolation can be a recipe for disaster. For a successful recovery you need support; you can’t nor should you try to recover alone.
You’ll need daily reminders. You’ve likely heard of the saying, “there are no days off in recovery” – and for good reason. It’s easy to become nostalgic about using when you simply quit drugs or alcohol. You’ll need tools and strategies that you can use each day to fend off cravings and triggers and stop that voice that says “it’s going to be different this time,” or “just one more time won’t hurt me.” Permanent recovery is an ongoing process that requires daily work to heal physically, mentally and spiritually and to acquire the life skills needed to build a fulfilling sober life. Certainly, willpower can’t hurt – but it’s not the answer.
Begin Your Recovery at BRC
At BRC, you can find the power you need to overcome a substance use disorder. We equip our clients with the care and expertise needed for a lifetime of joy, happiness and freedom from addiction. To learn about the BRC recovery continuum of care, call today: 866-461-1759.